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In all respect due the Court, I must assert that this ruling is not a true reflection of the facts as they apply to the Canal Zone. Not only are the Bill of Rights in the Canal Zone being substantially violated in direct deference to the present Canal treaty negotiations, but the rights of the citizen within the continental limits of the United States are also being violated out of deference to these treaty negotiations.
I had intended, at this time, to include a number of specific examples of the violations that I have spoken of, but after reflection; I realize that to do so would take away from the thrust of this hearing and the time alloted to me. I have been supplying the House Panama Canal Subcommittee with these type examples for the last several years, and I am sure that they would be willing to supply this Subcommittee with copies of this correspondence. I include here some of the more recent incidents.
Mr. Chairman, I have all but exhausted my appeal rights to the two other branchs of our government. I am here today appealing to the Congress of the United States on a matter that is of direct interest to them and the U.S. citizens that they represent. The right to be protected under the laws of the United States. I do not consider these rights to be abstract.
If I fail in my appeal here today If this Subcommittee elects not to act forcefully in this matter I, and the people I represent, will not only be the losers, but our very system of government will have been tested and will have failed to meet that test. I can think of no circumstance that could justify the Congress of the United States ignoring their responsibility in asserting the seperation of powers clause in this matter when United States citizen's rights are being violated..
William R. Trurron
William R. Drummond
40 Campo Bello Cort
Dear Senator :
I am a resident of Menlo Park, California, and practice law in Pedwood City, California. I ara enclosing for your review a legal brief which I have prepared relating to the sovereignty of the United States over the Panana Canal Zone, Since you, as a United States Senator, will undoubtedly be voting on any revísions to the Panama Canal treaty, I feel that it is most important for you to understand the rights of the United States concerning the Panama Canal zone.
Very truly yours,
michael & Brady
Michael J. Brady
Representatives of the President are currently negotiating with 18 representatives of the Republic of Panama regarding substantive 19
changes in the position of the United States concerning the Panama 20
Canal and the Panama Canal Zone. It is undoubtedly true that Congress 21 (though probably not the President alone) can sell or donate territory 22 of the United States to a foreign power. The United States, of 23
course, has rarely done so, and the prospect of the United States 24 giving away part of its territory is highly controversial 25 especially territory as strategically important as the Panama Canal 26 Zone. Nevertheless, that is a political decision, and if Congress 27 chooses to do so, Congress does have the power to dispose of national 28 territory in such a fashion. 29
It is critically important, however, that the government (both 30
the Congress and the President) understand exactly what their rights 31 are in the Panama Canal zone before giving away any of these rights. 32 We say this because there was much pre-November, 1976, political 33
oratory that tended to indicate that the United States did not have 34 sovereign rights over the Panama Canal zone and much oratory to the 35 effect that the Panama Canal Zone was not actually territory belonging 36 to the United States. Such political statements could well be viewed
as clearing the way and making it much easier for ratification of a new treaty changing the rights of the United States over the Panama Canal Zone; stated another way, if we accept as a fact that the United States does not have sovereign rights over the Panama Canal Zone, then living with a new treaty becomes more palatable.
Legally, however, it does appear that the United States has absolute rights of sovereignty over the Panama Canal Zone, the United States owns the Panama Canal Zone, and the Panama Canal Zone is actual territory belonging to the United States. If this legal interpretation is accepted, then the prospect of giving away these rights in a new treaty must be approached with great caution.
SOVEREIGNTY OVER THE PANAMA CANAL ZONE WAS CEDED
The leading case discussing the rights of the United States over the Panama Canal and the Panama Canal Zone is the United States
Supreme Court case of Wilson v. Shaw, 204.U.S. 24, 27 Supreme Court Reporter 233 (1906). Since this is a United States Supreme Court decision and since the decision construes the Panama Canal Treaty insot far as the rights of the United States are concerned, the decision is entitled to the highest weight.
The case arose on a suit by a private citizen to prevent the Untied States from paying out money for the construction of the Panama Canal and from borrowing money on the credit of the United States or from issuing bonds in connection with the raising of money for the construction of the Panama Canal. The position of the plaintiff citizen was that the United States had no power to engage in the construction of the canal. The U. S. Supreme Court upheld the position of the United States, ruling against the plaintiff, and in so doing, the court discussed at length the exact legal position and rights which the United States of America possessed over the Panama Canal Zone and the Panama Canal. Pertinent portions of the decision in Wilson v. Shaw are quoted as follows, with comments by the writer of this brief:
Comment: The Supreme Court, therefore, indicates that the
"The title to what may be called the
Comment: This section of the opinion stands for the proposition that the treaty between the United States and Panama operated as a cession of the Panamanian title to the United States.
The court went on to state that there could be no question as
"It is too late in the history of the United
The most important part of the decision of Wilson v. Shaw deals with the court's answer to plaintiff's contention that the United States had no power to construct the Panama Canal because the canal zone was not part of the territory of the United States. The court flatly rejected such an argument and in doing so interpreted the language of the treaty between the United States and Panama:
"Another contention, in support of which plaintiff has presented a voluminous argument, is that the United States has no power to